Tag Archives: Mood

Depression – not just a disorder of the mind

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Update 11/9/15 –

FREE WEBINAR – Join Dr. Vreeland for a free webinar on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:30PM called “The Gut-Brain Connection – Mood, Food, and More!” We’ll explore the amazing connection between gut health and brain health and give you tips and tricks to make both healthy.

Dr. Vreeland is a nationally recognized expert and author in functional medicine and will present information that will be life changing! You don’t want to miss this event!

Click here to register: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EC51D98085463A

The Robin Williams tragedy has highlighted depression and the terrible consequences it can have. It has also highlighted that most with depression are improperly treated. Only 30% achieve remission with one treatment, and only 70% with 4 cumulative treatments. Clearly there is need for better treatments. But what if the treatments just aren’t that effective? Perhaps medicine is treating the wrong thing? Recent study has shown an enormous publication bias when it comes to the efficacy of antidepressants. Studies that show positive outcomes are much more likely to be published and even studies that aren’t positive are, in the author’s opinion, are published in a way that make them appear positive. Imagine the effect that might have on the prescription habits of doctors. Again, a new, more comprehensive approach is necessary.

More and more information is linking depression with inflammation. This inflammatory load causes changes in neurotransmission leading to depression in susceptible individuals. Inevitably, some are going to experience mood so low they see suicide as the only way out. A big piece of the depression-inflammatory link is gastrointestinal health. Yes, your gut and your brain are connected and it can affect you mood. Here is a summary of how it occurs.

Bacterial load in the gut is immense. There are more bacterial cells in your gut than there are cells in the rest of your body. This collective load of bacteria can be considered an inner organ. Just as disruptions in the function of other organs in your body can affect brain function, disruptions of this “organ” can affect your mood. The balance of the bacteria is key. A shift that allows overgrowth can cause many symptoms. Some of them may be gastrointestinal, some of them dermatological, some of them might cause fatigue, some might cause mood change. And here’s how.

There is a toxin on the surface of many of the bacteria in our gut. It’s called lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS should stay in the gut where it belongs. However, when it gets out of the gut it causes a potent immune response. This immune response is inflammatory. Over time, inflammatory load builds and builds to a point where it begins to cause systemic levels of inflammation to rise. Once this has happened, this inflammation begins to break down the blood brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is critical for keeping our brain in an isolated and controlled environment. With its breakdown, inflammatory chemicals circulating in the blood stream gain access to the brain and can begin to alter neurotransmitter levels, including serotonin. Eventually, these changes in neurotransmission result in altered synaptic plasticity and, literally, alters the way your brain is wired. This is reversible and can be improved, but only if the right treatments are applied. For many, the right treatment is not  antidepressant medication. Unfortunately, they don’t know the above information either and they’re left to suffer. A new paradigm is starting to unfold in mental health – one that addresses overall health of the individual to get results rather than simply altering neurotransmitters with drugs that, arguably, don’t work.

Here are some good references for the information above if you’re a glutton for punishment 🙂

Reference 1

Reference 2

Reference 3

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Depression – An Inflammatory Condition

More and more research is pointing to inflammation as the culprit behind human disease and suffering.  And depression, yes depression, is no different! Watch this short video about how levels of depression in your body may be affecting your mood. By reducing inflammation you have the opportunity to improve serotonin production and elevate mood!!

 

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Food Affects Your Mood!

The quality of the food you consume has a significant impact on how you think and feel.  Remember to eat as healthy as possible to feel wonderfully happy and energetic!

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Fighting Depression Naturally

Depression

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Depression is a huge problem in the United States.  The numbers are quite amazing. Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder. Depression is not just a disorder for adults, however. As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.

Depression is characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Unipolar depression, the most common mood disorder in the U.S., was first described by Hippocrates in the 5th century B.C. He believed that depression was caused by an imbalance in the four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.  Excess black bile caused depression according to Hippocrates. In fact, the Greek term for depression, melancholia, means black bile.

This view may seem far fetched, but the fact that depression is a physical process is correct. Even Freud wrote of the various presentations of depression which range from mild and cognitive, to severe and somatic.
There are several ’causes’ of depression.  I put ’causes’ in quotes because no one really knows for sure what ’causes’ depression.  There are many theories.  In my opinion, an imbalance in the neurotransmitter system is a scientifically sound explanation as to how a person could develop a mood disorder.  I also like to consider that if a person is not in good general health, depression is more likely to take hold.  This is a view that is also supported by the research.
So if these are two ’causes’ of depression, how can we effectively treat it?  Good question.  See my answers below.

Get Healthy

First and foremost a person that is depressed must make every effort to get healthy.  This includes exercise and dietary changes.  Junk in equals junk out.  Period.  If all one eats is McDonald’s value meals they are very unlikely to be healthy and much more likely to develop depression in my opinion.  Did you ever see the movie SuperSize Me?  A documentarian decides to eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days to see what happens.  Not only did he fall apart physically but he developed depression! Now, this is just one case and is a bit anecdotal, but the result confirmed the  hypothesis I made before I even saw the movie.

You must eat a healthy diet in order for your body to work properly and be healthy.  For some reason modern medicine has separated the health of our body from the health of our minds.  It is widely understood that to have a healthy body we need to eat nutritious foods.  It is far less accepted that to have a healthy mind we need to have a healthy diet.  Why is this the case?  The food that we eat provides fuel to our bodies and to our brains. The same food nourishes our entire system, not simply our physical bodies.

Exercise is unbelievably critical.  In fact, research has shown that the #1 cure for depression lasting less than 7 years is exercise.  Exercise does many things for the body. It improves blood flow, is a great stress reliever and changes the chemical balance in the brain to name just a few.  If you feel as if you suffer from depression and you do one thing for yourself this should be the one.  It has long lasting benefits in terms of depression and helps get the rest of your body healthy as well.

Supplements to take

There are several supplements that have been shown to reduce depression.  I would not suggest trying them all at once.  And I would suggest you consult a physician that is trained in functional medicine before you start a program.

5-HTP

If your problem is low serotonin this may help you.  5-HTP is short for 5-hydroxytryptophan.  5-HTP is the direct precursor in the body for serotonin.  Taking it may increase your serotonin levels and improve your mood.

St. John’s Wort

This is an herbal product that is used here in the U.S. to help with depression.  It acts by affecting the serotonin system.  I have found that it helps some, but not all depressed patients.  It’s a popular depression treatment in Europe.

SAMe

Short for the chemical name S-adenosylmethionine, it is pronounced “sammy.”  This has worked well in my practice for many people.  It is available over the counter in the U.S., but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Diets higher in omega-3 fatty acids are known to protect people from depression.  It also appears that consuming more omega-3s reduces the symptoms of depression.  Consuming more in one’s diet is not likely to be enough.  Most people will have to supplement their diet with the oil or capsules to gain the most benefit.

This is just a small sample of the things that one can do to naturally ease depression.  People are most successful when combine exercise, diet and supplements together.  It will give you the best chance of improving your mood and feeling happier and more alive.

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